EB-5 - REGIONAL CENTER INVESTORS

EB-5 OVERVIEW

The EB-5 Visa was created by the Immigration Act of 1990. This program provides a method of obtaining a Green Card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. Initially, under the original EB-5 Visa, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the EB-5 Regional Center Program, investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing - "Troubled Business") through 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor's investment.

To obtain the EB-5 Visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a "Targeted Employment Area" - high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers, excluding the investor and their immediate family. If the investor's petition is approved and the U.S. consulate issues the visa, the investor and his/her spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 will be granted conditional permanent residence that is valid for two years. Within the 90 day period before the conditional permanent residence expires, the investor must submit evidence documenting that the full required investment has been made and 10 jobs have been created or will be created within a reasonable time period.

WHAT IS EB-5?

WHAT IS A REGIONAL CENTER?

The EB-5 Visa was created by the Immigration Act of 1990. The EB-5 Visa provides a method of obtaining a Green Card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain an EB-5 visa, individuals must invest at least $500,000 USD in a project or business within a Targeted Employment Area (see below for more details) and create at least 10 jobs through that investment.

The EB-5 Regional Center Program began in 1992. A “Regional Center” is a United States government approved entity dedicated to the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment of a region. EB-5 Regional Center projects must meet the requirements set forth by USCIS.

WHAT ARE EB-5 REQUIREMENTS?

WHO ARE EB-5 INVESTORS?

In order to qualify for an EB-5 Visa, an investor must invest at least $1,000,000, or $500,000 for a project in a TEA, in an enterprise that will create at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens and legal residents. If the project is an existing business, the 10 new jobs have to be in addition to the existing jobs in the business.

EB-5 investors can come from any country outside the United States and can even include people who are in the United States legally under a temporary visa. In 2013, over 70% of all EB-5 investors have come from China, Middle East, and South America.

WHAT IS A TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREA?

USCIS defines a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) as an area which, at the time of investment, is a rural area, (not within either a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), as designated by the Office of Management and Budget, or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more), or an area within an MSA or the outer boundary of a city or town having a population of 20,000 or more which has experienced unemployment of at least 150% of the national average rate.

WHY EB-5?

DIRECT ROUTE TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY IN THE UNITED STATES

FREEDOM FOR INVESTOR AND FAMILY TO LIVE, WORK AND RETIRE ANYWHERE IN THE U.S.

INVESTOR & THEIR FAMILIES MAY ATTEND COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY AT U.S. RESIDENT COSTS

INVESTOR & IMMEDIATE FAMILY MAY TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE U.S. WITHOUT A U.S. VISA

ROUTE TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP AFTER USCIS REQUIREMENTS ARE MET

ABILITY FOR INVESTOR TO SPONSOR GREEN CARDS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS

INVESTOR RECEIVES ALL BENEFITS OF U.S. PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS

REGIONAL CENTERS

A Regional Center is any economic entity which has been designated by USCIS to be involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment. The EB-5 Regional Center Program was created by Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 on Oct. 6, 1992 and has been extended through September 30, 2015. The EB-5 requirements for an investor under the EB-5 Regional Center Program are essentially the same as in the original EB-5 “Direct” Visa. The difference is that the EB-5 Regional Center Program provides for investments that are affiliated with a “Regional Center.” Investments made through Regional Centers can take advantage of a more expansive calculation of job creation including direct, indirect and induced jobs.

In order to receive a designation to become a Regional Center, organizers must submit a proposal showing:

    • How the Regional Center plans to focus on a geographical region within the United States and promote economic growth in that region.
    • How, in verifiable detail (using economic models), jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the Regional Center’s business plan.
    • The amount and source of capital committed to the Regional Center and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.
    • How the Regional Center will have a positive impact on the regional or national economy.

EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER REQUIREMENTS

The requirements for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which allows for the immigration applicant to create a new business through a designated Regional Center, are as follows:

1. Investment must be made in a new business (created after 1990) or a business that was substantially reorganized or restructured after 1990.

2. The individual must invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000 of capital into that business depending upon the area in which the business is located. ($500,000 is only sufficient if invested in areas considered as “targeted employment areas”).

3. Business results must benefit the U.S. economy and create direct, indirect, or induced employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.

4. The new business owner (the immigration applicant) must actively participate in the management of the new business, which may be accomplished by being a limited partner or member in the new business.

TARGETED EMPLOYMENT AREAS

CAPITAL INVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS

A targeted employment area (“TEA”) is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate. A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the decennial census.

The investor is required to invest a minimum of $500,000 for investments in a new business located within a TEA. This $500,000 amount is the minimum allowed by the United States law to qualify for the EB-5 Green Card in a TEA. As per federal guidelines, the EB-5 investment must be made “at-risk”, and any guarantee of return of capital is strictly prohibited. If given, the guarantee negates the ”at-risk” requirement of the EB-5 law, and the investor’s petition will be denied. Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.

EB-5 VISA BENEFITS

The EB-5 Regional Center Program is the most flexible in the world. It sets no requirements for age, business training and experience, or language skills. Additionally, those immigrants who have entered the U.S. on an EB-5 Visa are able to travel to their home country during the course of the conditional lawful permanent residency status. They can even maintain business and professional relations in their country of origin, as long as it is not under U.S. sanctions. Generally, as a permanent resident, the investor and his or her family are free to return to their homeland for visits or business purposes, as long as they do not intend to abandon their residence in the U.S.

The EB-5 Regional Center Program also allows investors a great deal of freedom because it does not require immigrant investors to manage their investment on a daily basis, but rather, to ‘actively engage’ in a business enterprise, meaning they can be limited partners and pursue other professional or personal ventures. Moreover, should the investor and his or her family elect to become U.S. citizens, the time spent as conditional permanent residents is credited towards the five year lawful permanent residency requirement for U.S. citizenship.

  • DIRECT ROUTE TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY IN THE UNITED STATES FOR INVESTOR, HIS/HER SPOUSE, AND ANY UNMARRIED CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 21.
  • FREEDOM FOR INVESTOR AND FAMILY TO LIVE, WORK, AND RETIRE ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES.
  • INVESTOR AND HIS/HER SPOUSE AND CHILDREN MAY ATTEND COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY AT U.S. RESIDENT COSTS.
  • INVESTOR AND IMMEDIATE FAMILY MAY TRAVEL TO AND FROM THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT ANOTHER VISA.
  • ROUTE TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR INVESTOR AND IMMEDIATE FAMILY AFTER MEETING THE USCIS REQUIREMENTS.
  • ABILITY FOR INVESTOR TO SPONSOR GREEN CARDS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS.
  • INVESTOR RECEIVES ALL BENEFITS OF U.S. PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS, INCLUDING ABILITY TO DEVELOP AND RUN HIS/HER OWN BUSINESS.

REDUCED UNIVERSITY TUITION

One of the main benefits of obtaining lawful permanent residency within the United States is that you and your immediate family will be able to attend any university in the United States and pay tuition fees the same as any United States resident, not as an international student. This would mean an average saving of over $85,000 per person enrolled in a university that is located within the state in which they reside. A family with four children enrolled into university that they reside in would save well over $300,000 in tuition fees depending on the university that their children are enroll in. Check the below chart for further details.

School Name In-State Resident Tuition Per Year* International Student Tuition Per Year** Potential Tuition Savings Over 4 Years***

University of Wisconsin-Madison

$16,626 $46,126 $118,000

University of Virginia

$9,870 $31,870 $88,000

University of California-Berkeley

$10,333 $33,050 $90,868

University of Michigan

$5,735 $17,374 $46,556
*Tuition rates for permanent residents living in the same state
**Tuition rates found via schools’ public websites, March, 2010
***Average savings: $85,856 not including additional visa and legal fees for international students.

EB-5 PROCESS

STEP 1: LOCATING AN EB-5 PROJECT

STEP 2: CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND I-526 PETITION

The preliminary step is for the EB-5 applicant to find a suitable business project to receive their investment. EB-5 business projects generally take the form of either an individual commercial enterprise or Regional Center projects. Overseas migration agents often help EB-5 investors locate the project that best suits their needs. Applicants must also ensure that they meet accredited investor income requirements in order to move forward with the EB-5 process.

The second step of the EB-5 visa process is for the applicant to make the required capital investment amount in the project that they have chosen and verify the source of funds. This typically involves the assistance of an accountant to ensure that the $500,000 or $1,000,000 amount has either been invested or is in the process of being invested in their EB-5 project. These investments are often made into an investor holdings account. Then an immigration attorney provides proof of this investment by filing an I-526 petition with the USCIS. The USCIS typically informs applicants whether or not their I-526 petition has been accepted after 12 to 16 months.

STEP 3: TWO-YEAR CONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY

STEP 4: PERMANENT RESIDENCY AND I-829 PETITION

The third step of the EB-5 application process is for the applicant to become a two year conditional resident of the United States so they can put their EB-5 project investment to work. EB-5 investors are eligible to become U.S. conditional residents once their I-526 petition has been approved by the USCIS. Residency can be attained in one of two ways. If the EB-5 investor already has lawful status in the U.S., then they must file form I-485 to adjust their status to conditional permanent resident. If the investor does not already have U.S. status, then they must file for an immigrant visa by submitting form DS-260 to the National Visa Center and must process through the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. Both of these steps typically require the help of an immigration attorney and the immigrant visa is issued on average in 6 to 12 months.

The last step in the EB-5 visa process is for the applicants to become unconditional permanent residents by removing their two-year conditional status. The I-829 petition is submitted to the USCIS 90 days prior to the anniversary of the date that the applicant first received their conditional residency. This application proves that the investor has met all requirements of the EB-5 visa program. The USCIS most often issues a green card 6 to 8 months after the I-829 has been submitted. The investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can then permanently live and work in the United States and have the option to apply for U.S. citizenship after a 5-year period from the date they received their initial conditional residency.

  • 1. PREPARE IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS
  • 2. DEPOSIT INVESTMENT CAPITAL
  • 3. SUBMIT I-526
  • 4. TRANSFER CAPITAL INVESTMENT TO THE NEW COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE
  • 5. ACQUIRE USCISI I-526 APPROVAL
  • 6. TRANSFER TO THE NATIONAL VISA CENTER (NVC)
  • 7. TRANSFER TO THE U.S. EMBASSY
  • 8. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION AT THE U.S. EMBASSY
  • 9. ACQUIRE EB-5 IMMIGRANT VISA
  • 10. ENTER THE U.S WITHIN 6 MONTHS FROM ISSUANCE OF EB-5 VISA
  • 11. ARRIVE IN U.S AND OBTAIN CONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY
  • 12. SUBMIT I-829 BETWEEN 21-24 MONTHS FROM ENTRY TO THE U.S.
  • 13. ACQUIRE I-829 APPROVAL AND UNCONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY (GREEN CARD)
  • 14. INVESTMENT EXIT STRATEGY WHEN THE INVESTMENT IS DUE

EB-5 VISA STATISTICS

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EB-5 AND E-2

Visa

EB-5

E-2

Intention

Immigrant

Non-Immigrant

Experience

None required

Should have experience in operating a business to be successful

Process Time

18 – 24 months

Depends on how quickly they can find the business and prepare documents

Qualified Nations

All Nations

Nationality & Treaty based. 

Country list can be found on Department of State website under “Reciprocity by Country”

Amount of Investment

$500,000 if in TEA

Or $1,000,000 anywhere

Must be “at risk” investment

Substantial investment based on a sliding scale and depending on the value of the business.

Investment Territory

Territory which is approved through USCIS

Any part of US

Residence in U.S.

Can live in any region of U.S.

Live near the Business Location

Business Operations

Regional Center may manage and operate the businesses under the program, but active participation in new commercial enterprise

Directly operate the business

Employment

Regional Center may manage the employment process and documentation, but active participation in new commercial enterprise 

Responsible for own employment hiring and documentation

Special Requirements

Job Creation: 10, full-time jobs must be created but can be indirect or induced if investment is through a Regional Center

Profitability requirement. Plan to make more than a livelihood, should make significant economic contribution within 5 years

Duration of Stay and Visa Process

-Locate and qualify Regional Center 

-Apply for I-526 and get approval 

-Apply for Visa through US Consulate 

-Get EB-5 visa, arrive into the US within 6 months to obtain conditional Green Card 

-Apply for Permanent Green Card before 2 years (I-829)

Non-immigrant visa but unlimited extensions, dependent on business status and must submit necessary documents to extend visa before each expiration (generally every 2 or 5 years)

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